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N45522 accident description

Missouri map... Missouri list
Crash location 38.197222°N, 90.384722°W
Nearest city Festus, MO
38.220610°N, 90.395954°W
1.7 miles away
Tail number N45522
Accident date 20 Apr 2005
Aircraft type Cessna 150M
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report


On April 20, 2005, around 1700 central daylight time, a Cessna 150M, N45522, piloted by a private pilot, was substantially damaged during an in-flight collision with terrain while attempting to land on runway 18 (2,202 feet by 49 feet, asphalt) at Festus Memorial Airport (FES), Festus, Missouri. Instrument meteorological conditions with thunderstorms prevailed at the time of the accident. The personal flight was operating under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91. The pilot was fatally injured and his passenger sustained serious injuries. The local area flight departed FES at approximately 1655.

The passenger reported that he and the pilot were attending a two-week course at a facility adjacent to the airport. The passenger reported that the training session was dismissed around 1630 the day of the accident. The pilot and passenger drove to the airport to look at the pilot's airplane. The passenger reported that they walked around the airplane for 15-20 minutes discussing the airplane before deciding to go for a short flight around the local area. The passenger reported that they pulled the airplane out of the hangar and the pilot completed a preflight inspection which took several minutes. The passenger stated that they boarded the airplane and the pilot began taxiing after warming-up the engine for several minutes. The passenger stated that there was no radio traffic noted and that the weather was "sunny and nice, with a slight breeze." The passenger reported that the takeoff was "real smooth" and when they turned to the west they immediately saw dark clouds. The passenger stated that the pilot immediately decided to return to the airport because of the approaching storm. The passenger reported that the pilot maneuvered the airplane back toward the airport for a landing on runway 18. The passenger stated that his last recollection is heading back toward the airport and rain beginning to strike the windshield. The passenger reported that the pilot did not verify weather conditions prior to departure and that the approaching storm was not visible from the airport. The airport is located in a valley which is flanked by higher elevation to the west and east.

A witness reported that prior to the accident the wind was "blowing really hard, the tree tops were bent over." The witness stated that he saw the accident airplane approaching the airport and it was "moving from side to side... having trouble with the wind." The witness reported that the airplane "turned on its left side and went behind the trees."

Another witness reported that he saw the airplane approaching the airport and its wings were "rocking back and forth." The witness reported that wind was blowing "extremely hard from the west" and that leaves and debris were "blowing almost horizontally above the road surface."


According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records, the pilot held a private pilot certificate with an airplane single-engine land rating. The pilot certificate was issued on May 8, 2002. The records show the pilot's last medical examination was completed on September 27, 2004, when he was issued a third-class medical certificate with the restriction "Must wear corrective lenses."

The pilot's flight logbook was not recovered during the investigation. At the pilot's last medical examination he reported that his total flight time was 130 hours and he had flown 10 hours during the previous six months. A flight log for the airplane indicated that the airplane had been flown 24.1 hours since the pilot took possession of the airplane on November 13, 2004.


The accident airplane was a 1975 Cessna 150M, serial number 15076959. The Cessna 150M is an all-metal airplane that incorporates a semimonocoque fuselage and empennage design. The airplane is equipped with externally braced wings, wing flaps, a fixed-pitch propeller, and a fixed tricycle landing gear. The airplane is configured to seat two occupants and has a certified maximum takeoff weight of 1,600 lbs.

The accident airplane was issued a standard airworthiness certificate on June 6, 1975. Aircraft maintenance logbooks were not located during the accident investigation. The recording tachometer indicated 6,725.9 hours. The hour meter indicated 994.3 hours.

The airplane was equipped with a 100 horsepower Continental O-200-A engine, serial number 251239. The O-200-A is a four-cylinder, 200 cubic inch displacement, carbureted, horizontally opposed, reciprocating engine.


The closest weather reporting station to the accident site was located at the St. Louis Downtown Airport (CPS), Cahokia, Illinois, about 25 nm north-northeast of the accident site. The following weather conditions were reported by the CPS Automated Weather Observing System:

At 1653: Wind 130 degrees true at 5 knots; visibility 10 sm, few clouds at 4,200 feet above ground level (agl) and broken clouds at 7,000 feet agl; temperature 23 degrees Celsius; dew point 16 degrees Celsius; altimeter setting 29.87 inches of mercury. Thunderstorm began at 1621 and ended at 1652. Rain began at 1613 and ended at 1641.

At 1725: Wind 280 degrees true at 20 knots, gusting to 29 knots; visibility 1 sm with heavy rain, scattered clouds at 900 feet agl, broken clouds at 5,000 feet agl, broken clouds at 6,500 feet agl; temperature 19 degrees Celsius, dew point 16 degrees Celsius, altimeter setting 29.92 inches of mercury. At 1716, a peak wind from 270 degrees true at 29 knots was recorded. Rain began at 1717 and 1.7 inches of rain had accumulated since the previous report at 1653.

A Convective SIGMET was current at the time of the accident and encompassed the accident location. Convective SIGMET 56C was issued for a severe line of thunderstorms moving east-southeast at 20 knots, with cloud tops reaching 41,000 feet mean sea level (msl), wind gusts of 60 knots, and 1.5-inch diameter hail.

Intense to extreme weather radar returns (50 to 55 dBZ) consisting of level 5 and 6 thunderstorms passed over the accident site between 1659 and 1729. Level 5 and 6 thunderstorms are characterized as "Intense" and "Extreme" by the National Weather Service. A plot depicting the radial wind velocities indicated northerly winds of 36 knots or greater as the thunderstorms passed over the accident site.


The Festus Municipal Airport (FES) is located 2 sm south of Festus, Missouri. The airport has one runway: 18/36 (2,202 feet by 49 feet, asphalt). The general airport elevation is listed as 433 feet mean sea level (msl). The airport is located in a valley area which is flanked by higher elevation to the west and east.


The National Transportation Safety Board's on-scene investigation began on April 21, 2005.

A global positioning system (GPS) receiver was used to identify the position of the main wreckage as 38 degrees 11.838 minutes north latitude, 90 degrees 23.079 minutes west longitude. The main wreckage was located about 250 feet from the runway 18 threshold on a 160 degree magnetic heading. The general accident area was flat, grass covered, firm ground. There were no obstructions noted in the general area of the accident site. The GPS elevation of the accident site was 432 feet msl.

The wreckage was surveyed using a GPS receiver, tape measure, and compass. The first evidence of ground contact was about 77 feet northwest of the main wreckage. The initial ground scar contained small pieces of red navigational lens material. The wreckage debris path was on a 145 degree magnetic heading.

The main wreckage consisted of the entire airframe. The main wreckage was found in an approximately 80 degrees nose down attitude on a heading of 315 degrees magnetic. The fuselage exhibited buckling in the passenger compartment flooring. The basic shape and volume of the forward cabin was reduced due to aft crushing and buckling damage. All flight control surfaces were accounted for at the accident site. The elevator, rudder, aileron control surfaces, and wing flaps remained attached to their respective hinges. The entire wing surface was separated from the fuselage and was found forward of the cabin. Both leading edges exhibited aft crushing outboard of the aileron-flap juncture. According to local law enforcement, the aileron cables were cut and the wing was separated from the fuselage to facilitate body extrication. The aileron control cable circuit exhibited continuity, with exception of the cut sections. The wing flaps were fully extended. The flap actuator was extended to the limit switch, consistent with a fully extended flap position. The wing struts remained attached to the fuselage and wing attachment points. The empennage remained attached to the fuselage. Flight control cable continuity was established for the rudder and elevator control surfaces. The main landing gear remained attached to the fuselage. The nose gear had separated and was found in front of the main wreckage. The fuel selector valve was found in the "ON" position. Both fuel tanks remained intact and contained a blue colored fluid consistent with 100 low-lead aviation fuel.

The engine remained attached to its mount assembly and the fuselage firewall. Internal engine continuity was confirmed as the engine crankshaft was rotated. Compression and suction were noted on all cylinders as the engine crankshaft was rotated. The left and right magnetos provided spark on all leads when rotated. The spark plugs were removed and their electrodes exhibited normal wear. The accelerator pump discharged fuel into the carburetor throat when the throttle linkage was moved. The carburetor was disassembled and was clear of debris. The carburetor float assembly was examined and one float contained fuel in it. The other float did not contain any fluid. The propeller remained attached to the engine crankshaft flange. Both propeller blades exhibited minor chordwise scratching. One propeller blade was bent slightly forward at midspan.


An autopsy was performed on the pilot on April 21, 2005, at the Jefferson County Medical Examiner's Office.

Toxicology samples for the pilot were submitted to the FAA Civil Aeromedical Institute, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The toxicology results were negative for all tests conducted.


The wreckage was released to a representative of the Festus Police Department on April 21, 2005.

Parties to the investigation included the Federal Aviation Administration, Cessna Aircraft Company, and Teledyne Continental Motors.

NTSB Probable Cause

The pilot's inadequate preflight weather evaluation and his failure to maintain aircraft control during the landing approach. A contributing factor to the accident was the pilot's inadvertent flight in close proximity to a severe thunderstorm associated with high velocity/gusting winds and rain.

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